Anyone who pops into Love Memorial Elementary Schoolâ€™s gym before the start of school will get an eye full of children getting down and boogying.
â€œEveryone clap your hands!â€ Johnny Colvard, the schoolâ€™s physical education teacher yelled into a microphone on Thursday morning.
Hundreds of children obliged, making the gym fill with synchronized claps.
For 15 minutes, the students danced the electric slide, charleston, continental and cha-cha slide.
This dance extravaganza is a reward to students who take advantage of the schoolâ€™s free breakfast, which is provided through Title I funding.
The only problem is students are sometimes so ready to dance, they donâ€™t want to bother with eating.
â€œThey need to eat because it makes them learn better, and they need to dance because they need to be active,â€ said Diand Canipe, the schoolâ€™s principal.
Dancing has been part of the school for nearly 10 years, but it was just last year that the morning dance session became an after breakfast treat.
Students learn steps in their individual gym classes then join together for an attempt at synchronized dancing.
Some students spend the time spinning, falling down and dancing in their own interpretive fashion. This sort of behavior is usually allowed.
â€œThe only trouble is when theyâ€™re not dancing,â€ said Ian Upton, a student teacher at the school. â€œTheyâ€™re just running around.â€
Students who simply run wild are promptly put on bleacher seats to watch their fellow classmates have fun.
Most children love dancing and are sad when they canâ€™t participate. Others are less passionate.
â€œI donâ€™t like dancing,â€ said Paul Timmons, a third-grader. â€œI just donâ€™t like it.â€
As for their instructor, Colvard loves dancing, loves leading students in the moves and can do a killer cha cha slide.
â€œI love being in front of the crowd,â€ said Colvard. â€œTheyâ€™re wonderful as an audience. Whenever Iâ€™m talking, I get their attention.â€
The gym teacher moonlights as a DJ playing beach music, top 40 hits and country. He hopes his students learn to love music and dance the way he has.
â€œDancing is good for them,â€ said Colvard. â€œItâ€™s something they can do for the rest of their lives.â€
Colvard notices that at the beginning of a session, some students are too timid too dance. Eventually, however, the music hits them, and theyâ€™re ready to go.
â€œThis gets them out of their egg shell,â€ said Colvard. â€œThey break it open.â€
At 8 a.m., after their 15 minutes of dancing, students head out for a day of study.
â€œI think this is really a good thing for the kids,â€ said Upton. â€œIt releases some energy before they go to class.â€
For some students, the morning is all about the moves, and everything that comes after just doesnâ€™t compare.
â€œIt makes me feel great,â€ said Jodie Araya, a third-grader. â€œI like dancing.â€by Sarah Grano